In May, save our nation’s historical places
When:May 1 – 31
What: The Alamo, Mount Vernon, and Ford’s Theatre all have a place in our nation’s history, and every day, volunteers and workers help to preserve these structures as physical reminders of America’s past. Many other places, from small town churches to older homes, also contribute to our nation’s heritage. But across the country, places important to both local and American history are in danger of demolition. Without people working to save them, these buildings may never get an opportunity to tell their stories. This May, preserve our nation’s historical places during National Preservation Month.
Background: National Preservation Month was previously Preservation Week until 2005 when the National Trust for Historic Preservation designated it a monthlong celebration. This year’s theme “Old is the New Green,” urges communities, developers and organizations to preserve and reinvest in older buildings as a way to combat climate change and protect our environment.
Story Pitch: Historical societies and community groups can both share how preserving older and historically important places can create a local identity and make nearby areas better places to live. Preserving existing structures is often greener than building new ones, and environmental groups can promote the benefits historical preservation has on the earth.
The Story Hook: Since its founding, the National Register of Historic Places has listed over 80,000 properties. But being recognized by the Register is no guarantee of protection. Historical places need continuous maintenance and conservation efforts. What economic and environmentally friendly improvements can communities make to save their cherished places? Consider these questions when making your pitch:
- What green technologies are available that won’t diminish the architectural features of older buildings?
- Many older structures are in disrepair due to decades of winter storms or summer humidity. Are structural issues more common in certain climates? What construction methods or building materials help fix these issues and prevent them?
- How much money can a community save by preserving and improving a historical place instead of building a new structure? Are there tax benefits to preservation?
- How does improving older districts and buildings impact communities? Are there social benefits, such as a decrease in crime? Do nearby property values increase?
- How can preservation be compatible with new structures and architectural styles? What are ways communities and developers can strike a balance between old and new?
Tips: Provide contact information for an expert in historical preservation who can speak to the environmental and economic effects preservation efforts have had on communities. A representative from a preservation group place can talk about why historical buildings are worth saving.
Advisory Council on Historic Preservation
National Register of Historic Places
National Trust for Historic Preservation
The National Trust Main Street Center
–Researched, compiled & written by Kristina Elliott
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